McNary girls soccer netted three goals — two from junior Bethany Villegas — but it wasn’t enough against Sprague.
In the league opener on Friday, Sept. 23, the Celtics (0-6, 0-1) lost to the Olympians (5-2, 1-0) 4-3.
Both goals from Villegas came in the second half to cut the deficit to one. First, she headed in a corner kick past the Sprague keeper to make it 3-2.
The Olympians added another goal, and Villegas again cut their lead to one, this time with a strike from the left side with 17 seconds left to play.
“She’s like an Energizer Bunny out there, she doesn’t stop,” head coach Lauren Brouse said. “Her hustle and she’s hungry to score, so she’s running to that ball and just trying to get it in the back of the net.”
Early on, the match looked like it could quickly get out of control for Brouse and the Celtics. They gave up a goal in the opening minutes, and were down 2-0 after keeper Hannah Ferguson had a ball she was clearing bounce off one of her defenders, leaving an open net for an easy second goal for Sprague.
The frustration started to show for McNary, but it was something Brouse addressed at halftime.
“When they get frustrated with each other, things start to break down,” Brouse said. “I just had to remind them that they’re all a team. They all want it so bad, and that’s why they’re getting frustrated. But they have the same goals. They have to turn that frustration into their intensity.”
And they did. The Celtics trailed 3-1 at halftime, but were aggressive in the second half, putting the pressure on the Olympians. Brouse said in the locker room they were able to talk about the first half, and point out some opportunities the Celtics could capitalize on.
McNary first got on the board thanks to a Tessa Fisher penalty kick after a handball from Sprague that the officials determined to be intentional, and there were other opportunities in the game.
In the first half, Katya Martinez drew a penalty in the box, but she was unable to cash in the penalty kick, as Sprague keeper Allison Ellifritt made the stop and was able to cover up the ball and prevent a rebound chance.
In the second half, Fisher hit a cross from the right side that was just out of the reach of Martinez to put a foot on.
Later in the half, Martinez had another good chance, from about 25 yards out, she struck the ball with her left foot, but her right foot slipped out and she was unable to strike it true. The shot sailed a little wide right past the goal.
“We didn’t turn it on until the second half,” Brouse said. “Had we gotten a few more opportunities, if we put a full game together, I think a few more would have gone in the back of the net.”
It has been a rough start to the season for Brouse and the Celtics, who are still looking for the first win of the season. But Friday gives promise, as the first game the Celtics have scored multiple goals this season.
“Once we get that win, it’s going to be a game changer for us,” Brouse said. “But we need it. This season’s dwindling down, so we need it.”